"Linen sports jackets are casual. Swimwear is casual. Fucking someone is not casual. And while we're in the subject, if certain rumors regarding your sexual proclivities start popping up around town, you know who started them. Have a pleasant evening, bottom boy," I recited with much gusto and with much more volume than the handsome, blonde character on the screen delivered.
Tonight was not the first time I saw The Broken Hearts Club. Not the third. Not the tenth. Probably the fifty-fourth, since I first heard of it from a friend eleven years ago. I loved it then; I still love it until now. I could recite the whole film from the "Sony Pictures Classics" production id in the obb up to the "We've Only Just Begun" closing credits scoring verbatim, plus all the songs with the most accurate dramatic pauses, accents and intonations. Not anymore. But I would probably still score 96 out of 100.
Tonight, as I took out my clothes from my old, wobbly wardrobe and started to look at them, I realized what an arduous task I was faced with: folding each article of clothing properly and piling them up neatly into the suitcases. Some of them, I didn't use much anymore. Some of them, I didn't even remember I had. But to segregate them would be a more taxing job. And so I just decided to go on with the initial task and get it over and done with. Play something-- anything-- in the background, and I wouldn't notice time pass. I went through my movie collection to find something light, and funny and feel-good, but I didn't find any. And then I came across The Broken Hearts Club. Fantastic! I can play it and not even watch it at all, and sing along to the entire screenplay to entertain myself.
And so I did. And just before I finished my first glass of Merlot, right about the time I was folding the twelfth shirt, I made my first line blunder. I absolutely forgot Dennis' "You just insulted the cake I made for my own birthday." and went straight into "I didn't even get to blow the candles." I'm glad I was alone. It would have been humiliating had someone heard me. Dan would have died laughing had he heard me make that mistake.
I remember how, when we re-watched it for the first time together, he threatened walking out on me if I didn't stop reciting the script aloud. We were in this very same room. The same room that I've lived in since June 12, 2005-- a week after I moved to HK. The biggest room of the flat, that Mamu kindly let me have because I was the one who found it and negotiated with the landlord who spoke not a word of English. The room beside Benedict's, which cause a lot of problems because he couldn't stand how noisy we got whenever Chris, Julius and Dan (who wasn't living here yet at the time) slept over. The room that Enan now looks after during my six (sometimes five, sometime seven) nights of MIA-ness every week. Not on the very same bed, though.
My old bed (probably my first big purchase when I was new in HK), a cheap Ikea double pine bed, collapsed on us one Saturday night in June of 2008. We were celebrating Dan's birthday with the beckies. It was also the night Lawrence and I ended our 3-month tiff. I don't know how it happened, but at some point, a friend of ours, Joseph, somehow thought he was Superman and literally, leaped onto the bed. Without warning, the bed just retired. Kaput. Dead. Finito.
I have a new bed now. Well, not really new, but a very welcome replacement. A hand-me-down from James & Chris. Double, pine, but not Ikea. So it's sturdier. And what's more important is that I have a bed now.
I remember the look in JC's face when he saw my mattress on the floor when we were just beginning to fall in love. He pretended it was ok to be lying on the floor, but I could tell he preferred to sleep on a bed with four legs. But that was not the last time he ever slept over. He trekked the boonies a lot more times after that and fell in love with me. At the same rate that I was falling in love with him. This flat witnessed the blossoming of our love. And the demise of the previous loves and attempted loves that the Universe didn't allow to happen so that I could meet T, THE love of my life.
Haha! Those failed attempts at romance! One of my favorites was with Steve, with whom my relationship has evolved into him being one of my bestest friends. He came over to Tung Chung one Sunday afternoon, and I planned to show off my culinary skills by cooking a 5-course dinner. Good idea, except he didn't eat any of the dishes I cooked for religious reasons. He ended up opening a can of sardines.
There is so much more-- so much more that I recall about this flat. How it turned out to be the studio of The Dan & Rye Show, my podcast with Dan which was nominated in The Philippine Blog Awards and as one of the 10 Most Influential Blogs of 2008; how it used to be the favorite party venue of the opening cast members of the Lion King; how it witnessed the growth of La Chiquitta (and the expansion of her wardrobe), the early retirement of Tiara Ferrari, the hiatus of Krystle Meth, the elimination process of the Drag-It-On gurls, and the winning of Gigi Reyes; Miss U breakfasts; secret meetings over fried fish with our activist friends, Rey &; Aaron; how it became refuge to many people, such as Enan, Maribel, Jethro, Miro, Josh, Nelson, James and Benjie; Beckristmas 2008-2010; how it has been in here that one of the most important rendesvous in my life-- with Rems & Mai-- took place; BP nights and BP Christmas 2008; how it became the official pension house of our visiting families and friends, and of friends who miss their flight-- actually just one friend, Ricci; how the shoe rack has grown from three layers to floor-to-ceiling; our rooftop bbq parties; the three major police raids that happened in the course of six and a half years because of a case of robbery and the illegal gambling on the second floor; how we adopted Lawrence's very precious white couch and Marah's ottoman; our series of Wednesday Fil-Chinese friendship dinners when I was stil in Disney; how the flat witnessed my career shifts and how I developed from a nocturnal to a morning person, and how I successfully quit my smoking; how Verna always hogged my room and took a nap whenever we had parties; how Dan and I laughed and cried and sometimes, ignored one another; how Dan cried after I brought out two spoons to use on the ice cream because I thought he might not want to share a spoon with me, and how I fought back the tears; how T & Fritz showed off their yoga skills at 3 in the morning, how Jethro &; Julius showed us magic at 4am, and how Jethro, Julius and I wowed our friends with a dance improv on 5am of boxing day; how it was Mamu, Ben and I and then it became Mamu, Dan and I and then Dan and I and then Gil, Razel and I, and then it was Gil, Razel, Enan and I, and then it was Gil, Razel, Gil, Moody and I, and then soon it will just be just Razel and Gil; how I hope Jethro would eventually move in so that we could keep the place in the family.
This place means so much to me. When there was nothing sure about the direction my life was going, I was sure I had a safe, secure place I could be myself in.
As I was packing the other stuff from the top of my wardrobe tonight, I found the little black notebook that Dan & I used to ask our house guests to write in. It contained so many messages that made me chuckle and go "aww!" Too bad it was too small to contain all the memories we've had in this house. But they're all in my heart.
My love affair with this flat has been the longest I have ever had in my life. Not to mention, the most intimate, and most honest. I am saddened beyond fathomable levels that I am leaving this beloved. But all good things must come to an end. And this love affair has been nothing but good.
"A lot of people ask me when I first knew I was gay. Fact is, I don't know. But what I do remember, what I can recall, is when I first realized it was Okay: It was when I met these guys. My friends." The film ended and the credits started to roll.
Thank you, Ma Wan Tsuen. Please look after my friends the way you looked after me. I'll come visit you soon.